Time may be running out for GAME, but respect the frontline staff

March 22, 2012, Author: Neil Hughes

For the last few weeks, I have been feeling quite sorry about GAME. Considering their current predicament and now that they have become the underdog, I even championed their cause.

Rather than buy Microsoft Points online, I thought I would pop in and buy some over the counter to support the struggling high street store.

Upon entering GAME in Birmingham, I was asked several times if I needed any help with anything, which I politely declined and never once said uttered words “Do you know who I am?” That kind of behaviour is generally frowned upon in most circles.

After taking my Microsoft Points card to the counter, I was asked if I have time to browse the excellent games in their special sale. Again, I made my apologies and indicated that I was quite busy at the moment.

The salesman was not going to let something like time put a stop to my exit, and said “Do you like football games? If you do, you can have FIFA 10 for only £3.00”. In my head, I was now shouting at the man “Yes, I do like football games and for this reason, I have FIFA 12, why would I want a two-year old football game?”

As a British male, I did not rant or lose my temper with the man, but simply declined the somewhat poultry offer of FIFA 10 for £3.00 on two occasions. I made a sharp exit, thinking to myself “Damn, that was bloody hard work”.

Now, I fully understand the retail politics where staff are heavily encouraged to upsell to customers. Where staff that don’t will find themselves being pulled to one side for a chat with their boss and maybe even given disciplinary action. Throw the dreaded mystery shopper into the mix, who could visit your store and mark you down if you don’t try to sell more swag to the punters.

Most customers accept this little game, and simply say “no, thank you”, because misguided anger at some poor sales person who is being bullied by an overbearing boss is never a good thing.

GAME going up in flames?

GAME going up in flames?

There are two arguments here. You could say if GAME were more proactive with upselling and helping customers, then they wouldn’t be in the mess that they are in, but I cannot help but think that this really isn’t the case.

A quick look on any gaming forum and you will find stories of people fed up of entering a store and being hassled into pre-ordering games, consoles, or additional items. They simply voted with their feet and order online, where you don’t have to play bullshit mind games with staff before you hand over your hard-earned money.

Maybe this is why the generally the majority of all high street stores are struggling in the modern world. Consumer think tanks will tell bosses that they can maximise profits by encouraging staff to upsell to each and every customer. Many of these staff are kids being bullied into such practices, but equally are the customers/shoppers of tomorrow who are getting rapidly bitter about what they see.

It all started with the infamous line "Do you want fries with that?"

Essentially, it would appear in 2012, what the customer wants and what the store wants are two very different things. The stores that realise this and change with the times will have a fighting chance but the ones that don’t will sadly perish, in my opinion.

The GAME Group has now officially filed for administration, the news follows the announcement on Wednesday that the business had “no equity value” when its shares were suspended from the stock exchange. Attempts to negotiate a rescue deal were quickly blocked by their lenders Royal Bank of Scotland.

So if you are tempted to go on a scavenger hunt at your local, out of luck store, be prepared to say the word “No” many times. However, before you think about getting angry at the poor person behind the till, try and remember that they will probably be getting hassle to ask you questions to avoid getting a bollocking. Even if they do everything asked of them, they will probably be losing their job soon.

These unsung heroes putting up with nastiness from both bosses and customers have my deepest sympathies. As for the bosses who have run the business into the ground with over-priced games and aggressive sales tactics, I think the modern high street just might be a better place without them.

Finally, remember the GAME store credit that you currently have may soon become worthless, so if you were saving some for a rainy day, I would strongly advise you treat yourself now before it’s too late.